Archive for January 2017

Your Latest IT News Update

Apple Sued After Texting While Driving Causes Death

A family in Texas is suing Apple because they believe that a driver who was allegedly distracted by a FaceTime call on his iPhone while at the wheel was the reason for a road accident which resulted in the death of their five-year-old daughter.

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Streaming Top Trumps

Akamai figures show that the inauguration of President Donald Trump broke all live video streaming records in terms of the rate of data transmission in Terabytes per second (tbps).

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Cloud Contracts One Third of Outsourcing

Information Services Group (ISG) figures show that in 2016, traditional outsourcing contracts were replaced by cloud-based services to the point where spending on cloud based contracts increased by 33% compared to 2015.

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Country Broadband Promise

The UK government’s post-Brexit strategy green paper ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ shows that its previous commitments to more funding for rural broadband and rolling-out and 5G mobile networks is still on the cards.

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Windows 10 – Entended Free Upgrade

Small- and mid-sized businesses who didn’t take up the earlier offer to get a free Microsoft Windows 10 upgrade are how being given another opportunity to do so.

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Tech Tip : Set Up Enterprise-Grade Security PC Login

If you want to set up a highly secure and personal way to log in to your Windows 10 PC, Windows Hello now enables you to use just a look or a touch of your fingerprint instead of typing a password. It can also be set up for multiple profiles on the same computer.

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Tech Tip : Set Up Enterprise-Grade Security PC Login

If you want to set up a highly secure and personal way to log in to your Windows 10 PC, Windows Hello now enables you to use just a look or a touch of your fingerprint instead of typing a password. It can also be set up for multiple profiles on the same computer.

In order to set up enterprise-grade, password-free PC login via ‘Hello’:

  • Use a device such as a Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, or fingerprint reader attached to your PC.
  • You can also sign in to your PC using Windows Hello companion devices e.g. Microsoft Band and some Windows 10 phones.
  • Select the Start button.
  • Select Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options to set up Windows Hello.
  • Select face, fingerprint, or iris option depending on how your want to log in (if your PC has a fingerprint reader or a camera that supports it).

Windows 10 Extended Free Upgrade

Small- and mid-sized businesses who didn’t take up the earlier offer to get a free Microsoft Windows 10 upgrade are how being given another opportunity to do so.

Ended Last Summer.

Microsoft’s previous offer of a Windows 10 upgrade, which was part of its push to get the new O/S out there and to move customers onto a new ‘as-a-service’ subscription based model, ended last August (i.e. 2016). The final months of the offer last time around however were not without controversy. For example, at the time, users complained about strong-arm forced upgrade tactics, Microsoft’s tracking practices, a lack of clarity about the upgrade and the upgrade process, a reliance on Microsoft’s store, and unhappiness about feeling forced into accepting upgrades from what could be perceived as a monopoly on the OS market.

The New Free Upgrade Opportunity.

The new free upgrade extension applies to personal computers running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and is limited to businesses (SMBs) that have signed up for Windows 10 Enterprise E3, E5, and Secure Productive E3 and E5 Enterprise subscription plans.

Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5 subscriptions delivered through a CSP program by Microsoft resellers require customers to already be running Windows 10 Pro.

However, some customers may have already acquired Windows 10 / Windows 10 Pro outside of the offer by simply purchasing new equipment with it already installed.

Why The New Extension?

The new deal is, therefore, a second sweep intended to convert those remaining Windows 7 and 8.1 machines that were not replaced with newer hardware, or where a business (for whatever reason) did not decide to take up last year’s free upgrade. It is part of the broad strategy to maximise Microsoft’s revenue by moving all customers to the software-as-a-service model, to promote the partner-centric CSP, and perhaps to move customers to more expensive options such as Windows 10 Enterprise.

The License Giveaway.

Whereas business customers who missed out on the previous upgrade opportunity would have needed to buy a 10 Pro license (because the offer was Windows 10 Pro based), this new upgrade opportunity is essentially giving them the license for free, which is something that would normally cost $199.

The license given as part of this new offer will, however, be perpetual, and device specific which means that it will continue even if customers end their Windows cloud subscription in the CSP.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Microsoft is clearly committed to the ‘as-a-service’ model with its current Windows 10 and future operating system versions. Moving forward with Microsoft therefore means that getting Windows 10 is inevitable, so this re-introduction of an old offer could be viewed as a chance to get something for free that you may probably have been intending to get anyway at some point in the near future.

It is of course still likely that some problems will occur when the automatic updates happen, as has already been the case on several occasions, but if you haven’t already upgraded, now may be a good time to consider the many benefits that Windows 10 offers.

You may also wish to get more advice about how Windows 10 could work for you.

Country Broadband Promise

The UK government’s post-Brexit strategy green paper ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ shows that its previous commitments to more funding for rural broadband and rolling-out and 5G mobile networks is still on the cards.

Commitments Last Year.

Back in his 2016 Autumn Statement, UK Chancellor Philip Hammond said that the government would invest £400m in a digital infrastructure fund in order to boost commercial financing for new small fibre broadband providers / altnets. The Chancellor also committed to investing £750m in local full fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband roll-out in order to help ibusinesses and the public sector, and to help integrated 5G mobile and fibre projects.

The hope at the time was to help boost the economy more evenly across the UK, even in rural areas, rather than just concentrating on areas such as London and the South East.

What Does The New Green Paper Tell Us?

Apart from a re-confirmation of the £400m digital infrastructure fund investment and offering £10m less for the FTTP rollout, the new green paper outlined the expectations of the government in terms of what the investment could deliver in output and growth.

For example, the green paper highlighted research figures which show that better-connected businesses and customers and increased broadband speeds could add an estimated £17bn per annum to UK output. It also suggested that an increase in broadband penetration of just 10% could be responsible for a potential 0.25% increase in GDP growth.

What Doesn’t The Green Paper Tell Us?

Some critics of the new green paper have pointed out that it doesn’t actually tell us any more about what progress has been made with the improvements in the UK’s digital infrastructure since the November 2016 announcements. It also gives little indication of the timetable for the plan.

Met With Approval By Industry Insiders.

It is perhaps not surprising that whatever the green paper may have lacked, its release and the surrounding publicity have been met with noises of approval by telecoms companies such as Telefónica UK.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Although there is still no clear timescale, the post-Brexit government intention to carry on as planned with the UK communications upgrade has to be good news for businesses, particularly those in rural areas and those outside London and the South East who have felt at a disadvantage.

Comments in the media from businesses have so far included positive responses to the news that businesses nationwide could soon be able to benefit from 5G technology and the local growth that it could bring. There has also been recognition that there are challenges to overcome, such as (government) being able to facilitate an increase in the number of antenna sites for 5G, and the need for the right regulatory environment for coverage and data demands i.e. one that encourages investment and competition.

Cloud Contracts One Third Of Outsourcing

Information Services Group (ISG) figures show that in 2016, traditional outsourcing contracts were replaced by cloud-based services to the point where spending on cloud based contracts increased by 33% compared to 2015.

Fall and Rise.

The ISG figures show that at the same time, cloud-based spending rose by such a huge amount, spending on traditional outsourcing dipped to its lowest level since 2009. In the UK, traditional outsourcing spending fell 10% with the number of contract awards declining by a third.

Global Trend.

Across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) the replacing of traditional outsourcing contracts with cloud-based ones is fast becoming a clear trend. ISG figures in this geographical area show traditional outsourcing contract value falling by almost a third in 2016, while at the same time, ‘as-a-service’ contact value reaching a record high of €900m.

Globally the picture is the same. Outsourcing spend in 2016 increased by 9% to €30bn, and as-a-service contracts increased by a massive 38% over 2015 figures.

Traditional Vs Now.

Traditional outsourcing contracts could be described as those where a supplier of IT Support Services uses its own people and in-house resources to handle that service e.g. developing and supporting software for the customer.

New kinds of contracts however offer different models such as software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS), all of which essentially provide flexibility / scalability, easier management and upgrades, and lower costs.

Evidence.

As well as the ISG figures for example, technical commentators have pointed to evidence in the marketplace based on the actions taken by big companies in favour of the cloud.

Examples include the phenomenal growth of SaaS suppliers such as NetSuite and its acquisition by Oracle for $9.3 billion, as well as Centrica’s move away from Fujitsu data centres to Microsoft 365.

Why?

Technical commentators broadly appear to agree that the nature of outsourcing contracts is changing as cloud providers expand their data centre footprints, company spending moves towards business-led digital initiatives, and businesses continue to see the wide scale, successful adoption and use of the cloud by competitors.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

If it is not already happening, and if your business is outsourcing its IT Support, more elements of your contract are likely to be cloud-based in the near future. Your competitors are likely to be taking advantage of the flexibility and cost savings that the cloud offers, and its use looks like becoming an important source of competitive advantage that you may wish to give to your business. You may wish to consider compliance issues such as where your data is located.

Streaming Top Trumps

Akamai figures show that the inauguration of President Donald Trump broke all live video streaming records in terms of the rate of data transmission in Terabytes per second (tbps).

Largest Single Live News Event.

The figures from Akami show that prior to President Trump’s inauguration, the largest live streaming event was U.S. Election Day (evening) back on 8th November 2016 when 7.5 Tbps was achieved. President Trump’s inauguration ‘trumped’ that figure with a high of 8.7 Tbps during the opening of his speech.

Context?

To put these figures in some kind of context, other figures from U.S. content delivery network (CDN) and cloud services provider Akami show that the UK 2011 Royal Wedding only managed 1.3 Tbps. It is accepted however that real comparisons over longer periods of time are difficult due to rapid advances in HD video streaming, which now requires higher bitrates and has more viewers.

Better comparisons could therefore be more recent ones such as the 7.3 Tbps and 3.3 million concurrent viewers for the 2016 Euro soccer tournament final which is clearly much closer to the figures achieved during the inauguration.

Mitigating Factors.

In attempting to explain how President Trump’s inauguration broke all previous live streaming records some commentators have also cited possible mitigating factors such as the fact that:

  • It was a mid-day event so many people may have been able to watch from computers at work, or they were live streaming the news via mobile devices.
  • There are now more mobile devices in use, and increased broadband speeds and more mobile broadband developments since many of the pre-2010 big-hitting live video streaming event records were set.
  • Numbers of video sites and services where people can watch big events are now at their most prevalent.
  • There has been a trend for some time now which sees people shifting away from traditional TV viewing to spend more of their time online.
  • This was an internationally newsworthy event given what some would consider to be some unprecedented circumstances and publicity leading up to it.

What Does This Mean For Your Businesses?

For businesses seeking to host events, one important publicity and participation avenue to seriously consider may be now be live video streaming. Figures show that more people than ever are now watching video online, it’s being done across more devices, and at increasingly higher levels of quality, and this could represent an important channel for business communications, particularly as more services become available and costs fall.

Apple Sued After Texting While Driving Causes Death

A family in Texas is suing Apple because they believe that a driver who was allegedly distracted by a FaceTime call on his iPhone while at the wheel was the reason for a road accident which resulted in the death of their five-year-old daughter.

What Happened?

Media reports about the accident show that the Modisette family, with their young daughter Moriah, were travelling along a busy Texas interstate highway on Christmas Eve, 2014 when a car accident ahead of them caused the traffic to stop and queue. Unfortunately, while the Modisette family stopped, the driver behind them, named as 22-year-old Garrett Wilhelm, is reported to have driven into their car at 65mph. The accident resulted in the death of the Modisette family’s young daughter and it also meant the charging of Garrett Wilhelm with manslaughter.

FaceTime Call.

The evidence which is now at the centre of the Modisette family’s decision to seek redress against Apple for what they believe its alleged role in the crash is the fact that Texas highway patrol have claimed that officers at the scene found Wilhelm’s 6S Plus Apple iPhone still on the FaceTime call in the wreckage of his car.

Why Blame Apple?

Reports appear to point to a conclusion that Wilhelm may have allegedly been on a FaceTime call using his Apple iPhone at the time of the crash. It is also understood that an Apple patent for technology that might have saved young Moriah Modisette’s life appears to be at the heart of lawsuit by the Modisette family against Apple, for gross negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Phone Locking System.

It appears that Apple was granted permission in 2014 for a patent outlining a system that could reportedly be added to iPhones. The system could lock a smartphone when sensors detect that it is being used in a moving vehicle.

At the time of the crash, even though the patent permission had been granted, Apple had not added the system to the model of iPhone that Wilhelm was using. It appears therefore that the Modisette family’s claim for damages and the payment of their medical and legal fees is based upon their belief that Apple was allegedly negligent by not introducing the potentially life-saving system to that iPhone model and therefore they allegedly played a part in the death of young Moriah.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Following on from the UK police clampdown back in November of hand-held mobile use while driving, this is, of course, another reminder for us all of the dangers of distraction at the wheel by technology and of the need to use hands-free options (responsibly).

Third-party apps designed to stop mobile use while driving already exist, and this case, combined with evidence gathered on UK roads could show that there is a need and an opportunity for apps / technology development based around driving safety.

Your Latest News Update

Robots Get Rights As ‘Robot People’

The EU has voted to give a Bill of Rights to robots that will give them “electronic personhood” status in the eyes of the Law in anticipation of a new kind of industrial robot revolution.

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Windows 10 Improvements From Insider Preview Build 15002

With many businesses now having upgraded to Windows 10, it’s useful to know which of the latest features the O/S can offer that can help you to work smarter, save time, and get better results.

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PC Sales Falling

Figures from Gartner and IDC show that, apart from the 3 big vendors, sales of PCs fell in 2016, with technology improvements and innovations proving to be not strong enough motivators to stop the downward trend.

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IT Recruitment Challenges in 2017

The word from recruitment specialists to employers is that challenges in IT recruitment for 2017 will include a ‘High-Demand, Low Supply’ hiring landscape, and the need to adapt to the needs and expectations of millennials and Generation Z.

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3 Men Charged After Making $4 Million From Hacking U.S. Law Firms

A Manhattan federal court charged 3 men with conspiracy, insider trading, wire fraud and computer intrusion in a case that mixed cyber-crime with securities fraud.

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Tech Tip – Detecting Suspect Links in Emails

Following links in emails e.g. from unfamiliar sources can pose a serious security risk. There is a simple way to check first whether a link is what it appears to be.

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Tech Tip – Detecting Suspect Links in Emails

Following links in emails e.g. from unfamiliar sources can pose a serious security risk. There is a simple way to check first whether a link is what it appears to be.

In Outlook, when you receive an email with a link it it, hover your mouse over the link. This will reveal the actual link on the bottom left hand side of Outlook.

3 Men Charged After Making $4 Million From Hacking U.S. Law Firms

Three Chinese citizens have been charged in the U.S. courts after it was found that they hacked U.S. law firms and then used the stolen information for insider-trading that netted them $4 million dollars.

A Manhattan federal court charged the 3 men this week with conspiracy, insider trading, wire fraud and computer intrusion in a case that mixed cyber-crime with securities fraud.

How They Did It.

It has been reported that the trio aged 26, 30 and 50 hacked 2 U.S. law firms, specifically targeting the email accounts of partners working on mergers and acquisitions. The hacking trio used the law firms’ employee’s credentials to install malware on the firm’s servers in order to access emails from lawyers.

The hackers were searching for commercially sensitive information that would give them an advantage in the second level of the fraud which was to trade on company stocks based on the insider information they had gained about mergers and acquisitions.

Another U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission civil lawsuit has shown that the men were able to avoid suspicion by listing themselves in brokerage records as working at information technology companies.

Law Firms Not Yet Officially Identified.

The 2 law firms have not yet been identified, although speculation in a technology news post on the Reuters website suggests that New York-based Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP may be a likely candidate. The speculation appears to be based on news that the bank represented Pitney Bowes in its 2015 acquisition of Borderfree Inc, which one of the mergers in question in the recent case. It has also come to light that in March 2015 Cravath was reported to have discovered what was described as a “limited breach” of its systems.

Accused of Making Money From Intel’s Altera Inc Acquisition.

U.S. prosecutors are reported to have accused the trio of defendants of making large amounts of money by trading using information that they allegedly stole from the law firm that represented Intel on its acquisition of Altera Inc in 2015.

It is reported that the men bought more than 200,000 shares in early February 2015, and then sold them when the stock price peaked with the release of the acquisition, allegedly making the trio around $1.4 million in profit. There is speculation on the Reuters website that this law firm that was hacked in this case may have been Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, but this has not been confirmed.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

It seems that governments, banks and now law firms can be hacked in sophisticated multi-level crimes, most of which result in fraud. This attack has been described as a wake-up call for law firms globally, although it also serves as a reminder to all businesses to prioritise cyber and data security. Businesses have a legal responsibility to protect client data and should take what action they can to protect themselves and their clients and to maintain confidentiality and client trust.

Having a robust information security management system (ISMS) with cyber security controls is now an important requirement.

Businesses should now take proactive steps to protect themselves and their clients. Clients need to be able to trust that their information is confidential and is well protected. Having a strong information security management system (ISMS) with cyber security controls is now an important requirement. Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans are now also essential.

Attacks can occur for multiple reasons such as system vulnerabilities, human error, or even employees / ex-employees with malicious intent. Businesses should, therefore, take a holistic approach to information security that covers the people, the processes, and the technology.